Nonprofit helps parents, kids escape drug abuse - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Nonprofit helps parents, kids escape drug abuse

August 21st, 2021 development
Nonprofit helps parents, kids escape drug abuse

By Coty Dolores Miranda

“Teen drug abuse and addiction can invade any home anywhere, no matter how ‘good’ that home life is. ‘I thought it would never happen to my family’ is the common refrain among parents in crisis.”

Gary Mirich, a long-time Ahwatukee resident, penned those words to explain how and why he and four other families founded the Fingerprints Foundation three years ago.

Mirich and his wife Kerry experienced the sucker punch that many parents have had to deal with – or could someday – as the epidemic of drug abuse engulfs the young, some still in elementary school.

The couple share their story because their daughter, now 22, has been drug-free since 2015.

The painful years that precede that year are engraved on their hearts and minds, leaving them with a passion to help other parents find a way out and heal as a family.

“As a family, we had the kids in sports, theater, and church from the get-go. Our home never had alcohol or drugs, and our kids knew we stood against drug use,” recalled Mirich.

“Our daughter began secretly drinking and experimenting with drugs around age 13. By 16, when our suspicions were confirmed, she had used pills, pot and LSD.”

When they found out, the world as they knew it collapsed.

“As parents who recognized our own personal powerlessness to change our child’s behavior, we eventually realized we were way out of our league. We didn’t have the tools to best help our daughter, or the damage being done to our family,” he said.

“No matter what, though, there is hope and lots of it, through recovery.

His family found recovery through an Enthusiastic Sobriety program that specializes in the unique needs of teen addiction and recovery over a longer time period rather than the typical 30 days of counseling often offered by recovery programs.

“My daughter is now six years sober and continues to provide experience, strength and hope to others in their recovery journeys,” said Mirich.

The other parent founders of the Fingerprints Foundation had also floundered with helping their addicted children. So, they banded together to direct other suffering families to Enthusiastic Sobriety programs like The Pathway Program in Tempe.

“As parents, our gratitude for the gift of our children’s sobriety as a direct result of Enthusiastic Sobriety compelled the five of us to start the Fingerprints Foundation. Our purpose is to help more families find their miracle through Enthusiastic Sobriety,” stated Mirich.

Enthusiastic Sobriety programs show teens and young adults involved with drugs that their lives can be fun while sober.

Describing Enthusiastic Sobriety as “specializing in the unique needs of teen addiction and recovery over a longer period of time,” he said the programs “work with the rebellion of youth that’s present even before they become young drug abusers.”

“We found the Enthusiastic Sobriety approach was what our family needed. It’s amazing how creative they are in showing the kids there’s a better option in being sober.”

Mirich pointed to numerous studies showing the adult brain is not fully formed until about age 25, and prior to that, behaviors can be impulsive, rebellious, pleasure seeking and self-centered.

In other words, along with peer pressure, it creates the perfect storm for experimenting with or falling into the abyss of drug abuse.

Enthusiastic Sobriety, an approach developed in 1972 and founded upon the 12-Steps of Recovery made popular by Alcoholics Anonymous, focuses on teens ages 13-17 and young adults 18-26.

“Our experience has shown that while traditional methods of treatment and recovery may prove extremely beneficial to adults, young people tend to struggle in these settings. This leads to the modern issue of young people who are chronically in and out of treatment,” explained Mirich.

The Fingerprints Foundation website points out that the Enthusiastic Sobriety approach meets the young person “where they are, and tapping into things that do motivate them: fun, peer acceptance, and the possibility of enjoying their lives and their accomplishments.”

“They offer kids something better than drugs; acceptance, community, and an opportunity to serve others,” said Mirich. ““We’ve witnessed these young people get into recovery and stop harming themselves and their families, and it’s just phenomenal. And when they start helping others to get and stay sober, it’s nothing short of a miracle.”

And to help young people and parents pay for programs like Pathway, the Fingerprints Foundation was born as an all-volunteer nonprofit in 2018.

The goal of the foundation, an all-volunteer nonprofit formed in 2018, is to increase awareness of programs such as Pathways.

Mirich estimates costs for any recovery program can range anywhere from $7,000 for outpatient to $18,000 for residential. Helping them with full or partial scholarships is the reason behind the nonprofit launching their upcoming inaugural Golf for Recovery fundraiser.

“To miss out on your child being a part of Enthusiastic Sobriety because of lack of finances is sad to contemplate. In fact, a lot of people have used their 401K by the time they get here. We provide our scholarships to families based on need.”

The need for Enthusiastic Sobriety has never been greater said Mirich.

“Overdose rates in Arizona have risen dramatically. In 2018 studies show deaths involving mainly fentanyl increased nearly twofold with 522 deaths in 2018. What’s scary is the stats only go through 2018.”

Experts believe drug abuse deaths have increased dramatically with the mental and emotional impact of the isolation brought on by the pandemic.

Mirich decried the “modern normalization of drug use”.

“You can see the overall acceptance of drug use with the proliferation of laws relaxing it,” he said. “In high school and college, even younger, you’re looked upon as a freak if you don’t try drugs.”

And that increase is why fundraising is more important than ever.

On Sept. 26, the Fingerprints Foundation is hosting its inaugural Golf for Recovery fundraiser at the Superstition Springs Golf Course in Mesa, the scramble format tournament begins at 7:30 a.m. and includes a barbeque lunch buffet.

Besides wooing golfers, the Fingerprints Foundation is seeking sponsors at several levels and donations for gift bags and the event auction.

“COVID was hard on a lot of nonprofits, and we felt the hit, too, so we’re hoping to get a good response on this fundraiser,” said Mirich. “We’d love to be able to raise $20,000 so we can offer more scholarships.”

All Golf for Recovery proceeds go to support the mission of the Fingerprints Foundation: “Providing awareness of and access to enthusiastic sobriety treatment and support groups for all those who need them”

The very name of the foundation is encouragement for a life lived at its best, explains Mirich.

“We call ourselves the Fingerprints Foundation because of an important affirmation that the kids and parents learn in recovery:

‘Everyone has a fingerprint that is unique to themselves. In our lives we touch many things and many people. And our fingerprints can leave a mark that we reached out to those who needed help. What will your fingerprint show?’

Mirich added, “We hope to leave a fingerprint of hope and life change.”